Denny Hamlin, the series’ most recent winner heading into the Bristol race weekend, appeared to have made the move of the race when a two-tire call under caution at lap 417 put him out front for the subsequent restart.
The lead was short-lived. Hamlin was penalized for speeding on pit road, something that’s been the Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s Achilles heel, and forced to give up the valuable track position.
He did manage to rally and finish fifth, however.
“I screwed up our strategy on pit lane,” Hamlin admitted. “We’ll get it cleaned up. Just got to work through all the kinks and clean stuff up.
“We didn’t have a race-winning car. Top-five finish with a car that probably shouldn’t have been there is a good day.”
Hamlin won the season-opening Daytona 500 as well as last weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. The TMS win came after he rallied from a, you guessed it, pit road speeding penalty.